Google Bazookas

Boundaries. In recovery circles this comes up a LOT. It’s an interesting concept for me because I don’t bloody have them, but now that I’m at my full wits (aka sober) it’s something I’m much better at.

I’m 100% a people pleaser. Not in a Mother Theresa kind of way or necessarily because I just want everyone to be happy, but because I am so fucking terrified of disapproval. I’m desperate for people to like me and it’s taken me all the way to almost 43 years of age to learn I don’t need to give a fuck about any of that. Yes, of course I want everyone to be happy and I really hate it when anyone – anyone at all, whether I know them or otherwise – feels unhappy, don’t get me wrong. But the fact that I’m a total suck-up is completely down to my desperate need for everyone to like me. I quite literally go cold inside any time I feel I’ve got something wrong, even if it’s something that really doesn’t matter. Case in point: in the summer we were doing some target shooting with air rifles. It was me, Bambino, hubby and my dad. I don’t bloody know shooting range code so reloaded whilst Bambino was setting up the apples we used for targets.

Anna! You can’t do that!” hubby exclaimed, “Never ever load the rifle when someone’s down there.

My dad came rushing towards me as if I’d aimed a loaded bazooka at my child. For the record, the barrel was pointing up so there was no loaded weapon – heavy or otherwise – aimed at my son. To be honest it was to my mind an absolute over reaction and I had been fully aware of everything around me at all times. But this is a golden rule, clearly, just like you don’t allow the rifle to at any time point at another person even when it’s unloaded. Fair enough.

Whoa-whoa-whoa, give me that!” dad barked and took the air rifle off me, brow furrowed and bark worse than his bite in his usual manner.

OK. Important and I can see why you should adhere to a rule like that – it makes sense. Only load when everyone is back behind you. I just had it in my head that so long as the rifle is pointed away or up it’s cool bananas. It isn’t. Being in the wrong and being told off made me feel SICK. Yes, sick. I felt utterly shit and almost wanted to cry. This is how sensitive I am to getting something wrong. I’m surprisingly good at taking criticism and I’m not afraid to hold my hands up and admit to being a fucktard when I’ve been one, but I am PETRIFIED of getting things wrong. A contradiction in terms perhaps, but that’s just me. But anyway, look at this scenario and you probably realise that the only person who even remembers this months later is me. I can bet you any money that hubby or dad don’t, because it wasn’t a big deal. Throwing my dad into the mix is of course the cherry on top because I have massive issues with impressing him and getting something wrong in front of him sends me into meltdown. Another thing I’m learning slowly but surely to let go of, but there we are and it is what it is. Yes, I’m kind and yes I’m caring, but my people pleasing has traditionally been down to desperation to be liked and this example illustrates that what made me feel sick wasn’t primarily that people got upset with me (and they weren’t actually upset) but that I wasn’t “good enough”.

Where boundaries come into play when it comes to my incessant people pleasing efforts is how I always agree to stuff I don’t actually want to do only to keep other people happy (and keep liking me). So I’ve always over promised and then, lo and behold, under delivered because what I’ve gone and promised I can’t actually make myself do. It’s insane really and these days I steer clear of such behaviour. If I don’t want to do something, I say one thing and one thing only: no. Before, I would have offered some wishy-washy and long winded excuse, feeling the need to justify, explain and apologise for my decision. Not anymore. I say no and that’s that. And so, when I found myself in a situation that actually really pissed me off and barged WAY over my new found boundaries, I dealt with it in the opposite way to how Drunk Me may have gone about it.

Without apologising for how I feel about it, I kept it matter of fact and removed myself from the situation. I showed appreciation where it was due and didn’t go into a long diatribe about aaaaaaall my feelings on the matter or the implications the situation had actually entailed on a personal level. Thanks but no thanks in a nutshell. Sober Me is surprisingly balanced and also firm. Drunk Me would have gone absolutely ape shit and reacted in anger at the time and at the same time apologised for how I felt about it. Sober Me let it sit for a while, thought it over and then calmly bowed out. I didn’t go into exactly what I found unacceptable because I recognise my part in an unfortunate situation, nor did I go into any other detail that wasn’t actually necessary. It’s not for me and thanks for your time – accurate and honest. This way I don’t need to feel upset and nor does anyone else, yet I’ve been honest and true to myself. In this situation it appears I wasn’t fully aware of how things would work and was a little taken aback (OK, a lot), but this is with hindsight my own fault so I don’t see any need to read anyone the riot act. All involved seemingly had the best intentions and the end result was just a bit unfortunate, that’s all. All that’s needed is exactly what I did: thanks but not thanks, this is not for me. Simples!

And that’s how I intend to keep on going. I don’t have to like everything and I certainly don’t have to explain and apologise for not liking everything. If I don’t want to do something, here it is in all its glory: NO. And when I feel my boundaries are breached, I will in a kind and respectful manner remind people where I’ve drawn them if it wasn’t immediately obvious.

Every cloud has a silver lining however, and this situation that got me thinking about boundaries did trigger some positive conversations. Oh, here we go again, I’m being a little suck-up. It didn’t trigger – it FORCED some conversations that luckily turned out to be very positive ones. When I realised my name now appears in Google’s search results as my full name along with being listed as ‘author’ on a recovery forum, I had no choice but to have the full disclosure discussion with my in-laws on the other side of the world (whose unusual surname I bear) and my teenage son. I’ve been dithering back and forth about the whats the hows and the whens, but this little episode meant it was ALCOHOLIC and SKYPE CALL and NOW. And a chat with Bambino last week. Panicked and in a knee jerk manner, maybe. But it has to come from me, not Google, even though the chances of that happening are in the grand scheme of things minuscule. Even so. Because I’ve been very open about everything it wasn’t difficult, but I would have still been able to choose for myself when I shared the most intimate details of my recovery and indeed when I had the A-word discussion with my child. It would have nice if that had been my own choice as opposed to be put in a situation where I couldn’t do anything other than present it all. Still, none of it was news so no harm was done. In fact, I’m going to take this whole thing to be the push I needed. I’ve not hidden my recovery or shied away from talking openly about it and I’m not about to start now, but I am also going to be in charge of what, when and how I broadcast it.

boundaries

It’ll all come good. And what it does show is that I’m a freaking WIZARD at handling stressful situations. This little lesson involved another reminder to fully weigh things up and check stuff over before throwing myself in. Or as this father of mine, whom I’m so keen to impress, often puts it: “don’t be so freaking blue eyed“. Ironic perhaps that a Swede who might be aware of the stereotype that might suggest we all have blue eyes uses this as a way of describing naivety!

Boundaries established. I’ll work on communicating them better. And I will always honour them. Sobriety keeps on delivering.

Today I’m not going to drink.

 

7 thoughts on “Google Bazookas

  1. Aaah, you are diving deep into the issues connected to the addictive personality! Yay! Uncomfortable!! Yay!!! But good!!! 🙂

    Alcohol and shame are very closely related. Also there is a relation between families in which an person with an addictive personality grows up and a strong ‘shame culture’. Guilt and shame are often mixed up. Guilt is about having done something wrong like burning the toast. Shame is about feeling useless and not having the right, or not having the same right as others to actually live and have a nice life. A lot of parenting mixes up teaching kids how to do and behave differently with shaming kids into different behaviour. So if a kid burns the toast, on can explain the toaster settings, explain that a toaster is cold at first and then heats up, that frozen bread heats differently, that it is always better to stay with it when you are not sure. A culture of shame would not do that, or possibly do that with a lot of disdain for the child and make the child feel like it is stupid, useless, dumb, less than others.

    John Bradshaw says good things about the subject shame and how shame is carried over from parent to child. I do have a little disclaimer with his vids though because, to me, he seems to know the theory, but not always walk the talk. I sense a lot of shame within him often. Which, when true, is sad. He also lists I believe 5 ways of carrying over shame. Anger, specifically anger which is in no comparison to the ‘crime’ which has been committed is one of the ways parents shame kids. It is their inability to live with their own sham within, you call it up when you load your gun, their shame gets activated and NEEDS to be unloaded onto you – sort of thing. Transfer. :-/ Kitchen table psychology obviously but I still believe this is how it works. John Bradshaw has a few books on the subject too. Playlist on YouTube from JB: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwbbw05FCg_G1eJ7IyWijfkY315WOXN3s

    Ooh, if you, or anybody here has an issue with the privacy of their own blog and would like to consider some options you can go to ‘My Site’ in the top left of your screen you can scroll down to ‘Settings’ and from there scroll down to ‘Privacy’ in the right part of the window. There you will find 3 options for privacy settings. Obviously your settings are now on ‘Public’ which means indeed Google can find you. The next setting is ‘Hidden’ which means Google and other search machines can not find you. The third is ‘Private’ which is on invitation basis only.

    Hope you find something of value in this. 🙂
    xx, Feeling

    Like

    • Thanks for this! Food for thought and yes, definitely a huge difference between guilt and shame.

      The privacy thing…. Yes, this blog is public and it has my face right on it! My choice. I don’t hide any of this. The problem I had was that my full name was broadcast on Facebook and online without my express consent to take it out of closed groups and the blogosphere (my surname isn’t on here) and whilst it was mostly my fault I didn’t like that the decision was taken out of my hands. That’s all. My family and friends all know about my journey as I’ve been open about it, but I have also been trying to tread carefully in terms of when I chuck “alcoholic” and “recovery” around me.

      It’s hypocritical I know, but I want to be in charge of putting my full name to this online. But as I said, I’m trying to see it as a positive thing and the push I needed to have these conversations. 🙂

      Thanks for your perspective – appreciated as always, my friend! xxx

      Like

  2. So much to comment on here … Firstly, and I told you, my husbands ex-wife found my blog and so she has told her children (and obviously my husband 😂) that I am a struggling alcoholic with mental health issues and shouldn’t be allowed to be alone with their children. The foulness that came from her was utterly vile, the endless evil messages to my husband about me etc etc. I closed my account for a couple of weeks to take stock and have a think. Now obviously up and running again, I have blocked her on my phone etc and husband dearest doesn’t as per usual read beyond the first para of her rants. We have told her in the past that he and I share all her messages between us but she continues. I was angry at first, but now … not at all. I feel sorry for her and the children. With her extreme negativity towards mental health it is hardly surprising that both her daughters have such problems. It’s sad.
    As for being a people pleaser … oh yes! That’s me! In the past when asked to do something that I didn’t want to, I’d say yes when I meant no, then be angry with myself for having agreed to it and either would do whatever it was with bad grace and probably not very well, or look for any number of reasons with much hand wringing and try to get out of having to do it. The whole situation was ghastly. I simply didn’t know that it was ok to say no. I always saw situations like this as awkward and each and every time was pushed around and used by people. I was never taught to stand up for myself and to say what I wanted. Children should be seen and not heard was the motto in our house, so when that is bandied around for years and years, it’s hardly surprising that I became so afraid of asking for things, negotiating, dealing with conflict etc etc. I have apparently a lack of ‘life skills’ and therefore have created my own coping mechanisms which are mainly pretty unhealthy ones. CBT and reading literature on this helps, as does the confidence gained by doing silly cycling trips etc. It has made me braver. I can now, at least some of the time say no, like you, without giving 100 reasons of justification. I loved this post as once again it really rang true. Katie xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s great, isn’t it? And ironically, we don’t please anyone by compromising our boundaries – I think it’s better for everyone all round when we are more able to communicate and show where we stand. …I’m working on it too, progress not perfection! xx

      Liked by 1 person

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